Do More With What You've Got

Lean Services

For more than a decade, managers have been urged to "do more with less." The endless downsizing and right sizing and layoffs have wounded so many employees and their families, that most businesses look like the night of the living dead.

The End of Do More With Less 
I'd like to argue that in many businesses (e.g., health care) we've hit the end of do more with less. It's time to refocus on "do more with what you've got."

Do More
Offshoring, rising costs, and thinning margins are going to force everyone to figure out how to increase productivity and profitability every day on an ongoing basis.

Do More With What You've Got
Lean thinking will enable you to do more with what you've got. Double your productivity and triple your profitability without changing staff.

Focus on your product or service, not your people.
Do more with less is about reducing headcount more often than not. But reducing headcount when your processes are clunky only exacerbates your problem.

I was observing an emergency room at a hospital. Their motto is: "treat 'em and street 'em." A teenager comes in with a broken nose. The doctor checks him out and orders an X-ray. The patient waits while the clerk enters the order for the X-ray into a system. The Medical Imaging department comes over to correct the order because it isn't right. After 20 minutes, the teen is finally wheeled over to imaging for his X-ray. Then he's wheeled back to await the reading of the image by a radiologist. And 30-60 minutes later the doctor gets the reading and makes a diagnosis and determines what treatment is required.

Doing more with what you've got is about simplifying, streamlining and mistake proofing your processes so that the product or service flies through your business.

How do you do that? 

  1. Never set the product or service down. This is the essence of one-piece flow. If you don't set it down, you don't have to pick it back up again. Don't leave the patient to enter the order. Start moving them through the next step in their diagnosis or treatment.
  2. Eliminate delay. Let the ER doctor do a quick read of the X-ray before the radiologist does the formal reading.
  3. Do things in parallel. While the X-ray order is being entered into the system, start moving the patient to the imaging department or start bringing the portable X-ray equipment to the patient.
  4. Eliminate rework and mistake-proof the system. Fix the ordering system so that the X-Ray order can be entered correctly. Or, wheel the patient with the doctor's orders to Medical Imaging and let them enter the order so that it's right the first time.

    Here's my point: 
    It's time to shift your focus from your people to your product or service. Simplify, streamline, and mistake-proof every aspect of the process so that the product or service (in this case a patient) flies through the process. Accelerate your product's experience. Blazing speed and mistake-proof processes will deliver more with what you've already got. Customers will notice and you'll get more business and you'll need those people to handle the load.

Rights to reprint this article in company periodicals is freely given with the inclusion of the following tag line: "© 2008 Jay Arthur, the KnowWare® Man, (888) 468-1537,"

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